Saturday, November 29, 2014

Long Days Together

Ah, the life of a working dog.  Thanksgiving was a bit tough on the Bustmeister.  While we spent time with family across town he was crated.  It was longer than he was used to, but he can not be trusted on his own, so we were left with no other options.  To make it up to him, we spent all day Friday together.

We've been needing a new(er) truck for quite some time now.  One that had a little muscle to pull our two-horse trailer on the longer trips we can now take with the horses.  I am not crazy about car shopping.  I thought we would go look at a couple of models and then come home and go riding.  We took Buster along.  We left at 9 am and got home around 7 pm with a new truck.  Buster was a pretty good boy sleeping in the dealer's office as we went through all the rig-a-ma-roll of the process.  He was also a great source of stress release during those long periods they keep you waiting.

So he had a day spent in the crate, followed by a day of getting dragged around looking at trucks, and we still felt he needed more.

Today, we took the new truck on a shakedown cruise with the horses and Buster came along.  It was his first "official" tag-a-long on a ride.  Again, he did great!  It was unusually warm - almost 80 degrees!  We were in an open part of the trail near the Kern River.  Buster followed along with us as we rode down the trail.  There were a couple of egrets.  I don't even think he saw them.  He was too busy keeping an eye on us.  We did not ride very far.  His tongue was hanging out.  We went back to the trailer for a short break, then went the other direction for a bit.  He looks like he is going to be a great trail dog.

Tomorrow it's back out to the river for a ride with the nephews.  We will likely be leading the horses as the kids ride, so he won't get so worn out.  We'll see what happens.

Checked his weight today and he was 24 1/2 pounds before dinner.

Monday, November 24, 2014

Improving Our Social Skills

That's not the royal "Our". That actually means both of our social skills.  Both Buster's and mine.  When you travel with a puppy, people stop and engage.  And they should.  Puppies are happiness.  They are not puppies for very long.  I say spread the happiness while you can.

Most people want to ask about my puppy so they can tell me about their dog.  I love that too.  Hearing about their dog.  The stories they tell.  Just the fact that they have a story right there, ready to go, usually tells you they are good people.  And, when they tell you about their dog, you can see the smile and joy on their faces.  Then the best part happens.  They take that smile and joy and pet my dog.  Cha. Ching.  The big payoff.

The look on Buster's face is priceless.  He is wondering what he did to deserve the affection cascading around him.  He still is a bit on the weary side of most people at first.  But, it's fun to see him warm up to people, learn to trust, and get patted on the head.

As for me, I just need to make sure to add some time to everything I do.  When people stop us, I want to be able for both of us to take it allllll in.

Friday, November 21, 2014

Buster on a Down

We are just looking for the concept here.  I used a few treats.  Buster is very food motivated.  I wonder if that came from having 10 brothers and sisters.  Either way we are calling this a SUCCESS!

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Training in Earnest

Training in Earnest

Well, it's time to really start working on our training.  We've had Buster for a month now.  He is growing incredibly fast.  With that growth comes independence and he is trying to exert it. His attention span is about as long as it takes a hummingbird to flap his wings.  He has selective hearing.  He is getting stronger.

He has the basic Sit understood although if there is ANY distraction at all, that's out the window.  If there is a scary noise or something going on nearby, that's also a reason to bolt.

We've been working on the Stay and if there is a bowl of food in front of him, he is pretty good.  If any of the above referenced conditions are present, poof he's gone.

The Down has been a challenge.  When he sits the first thing he wants to do is scratch his collar, so I have no attention.  Then, when I offer the command and get no response, if place him in the down position.  Just the act of touching him makes him forget what we were doing.  I started using the step-on-the-leash technique I saw championed at Petsmart.  We'll see if it helps.

Monday night Ranae was out playing tennis.  She had text-ed me she was on her way home.  I put Buster outside to greet her which he did admirably.  When she let him in, like Paul Revere, he thought it was his duty to alert me.  He dashed through the kitchen into the living room.  At full speed he leaped to the coffee table, slide a bit, then hopped and crashed next to me on the sofa.  I wanted to laugh so hard, but this was not a behavior we want to encourage.  It broke my heart to give him a big "NO" and set him back on the floor.  The thing I'm learning about Catahoulas though, is that's not going to stop him.

Oops, forgot to put his weight down. He officially doubled his weight in four weeks. He now weighs in at 23 lbs.  

Monday, November 17, 2014

Older, Longer, Full of Juice

As I sit here writing this Rusty has chosen to stay outside for a little peace and quiet.  Buster's "switch" is on. Excuse the typos as one eye has to remain on him. Friday he got his final puppy shot and we felt safe to take out to larger, more public places.  Buster is getting long and lanky as he is reaching the three-month mark.  
We went to a horse show/Cowboy Christmas event yesterday. It was here in town, but it was an all day thing. We left here with the horses and trailer around 8:30 am and got home around 5:30....excuse me he has lost his toy under the chair, be right back. Okay, he chased his ball down the hallway and brought it back several times. Between me and Rusty maybe his is winding down. Nope.

Back to Sunday...we walked him around the crowd and he got to meet a lot of people. There were also horses everywhere. He did really well. He doesn't seem like he'll be the dog that goes bouncing up to people, but maybe.  He took everything in and I think he liked being out and about. 

When we had to ride our horses, Buster stayed in his crate quietly. The only time he was a handful was when I was in the arena and Ranae was trying to take pictures. She said he was figetting and whining - he's a Papa's boy for sure. 

The last couple of mornings he has slept until five. We go out and share a pee in the dark and he goes back in the crate if I want another little snooze (some mornings I just get up and start the chores).  The feeding goes like this:  Buster has to sit while I prepare everyone's bowls - cats and dogs.  Then, I take Buster's bowl outside.  I rush inside and, cue Mission Impossible music here, distribute all the other bowls as quickly as possible. The mission, should the cats choose to accept it, is to finish in about four and a half minutes. Buster is up to over a cup three times a day and he is quick about it. 

Buster taking a boot break
Once the cats are finished bowls have to be picked up because Buster really likes cat food and will go bouncing around the kitchen trying to reach every bowl he can smell. Then it is about an hour of outside while I feed the horses and muck stalls. He and Rusty usually romp around for a bit until nap time. 

When it's time to go to work he just lays there. I have to put his collar on and entice him to the truck for the ride to work. He's like I was as a lazy teenager. Once there he'll get a bit more rest before our mid-morning walk. 

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Eleven Weeks Old

Buster is growing up!  Eleven weeks old already. He weighed in before dinner at 17.5 lbs. He is eating more than three cups of food per day and still has the audacity to look around for more!  In comparison, Rusty gets two.

This morning he slept in the longest he has yet. He did not get me up until 5 am. I think he was more hungry than having to go outside, although he happily did both in no time at all. He is great at helping feed the horses and clean the pens. As far as the cats go, I think he is a little better except for when the "puppy devil" enters his soul. He can't really control himself. It happens when he is playing with Rusty too.  He gets so excited he starts barking. I find that quite annoying and sometimes the only exorcism is a "time-out" in the crate. It usually works wonders. 

A couple of times I've had meetings at work and have had to place Buster in his carrier in the truck for awhile. He seems to tolerate it well. The weather is cool enough I don't have to worry about him.  The best part is he is always happy to see me.  

He still has puppy ADD as far as his training goes. He hasn't quite got the concept of "Down". His "Stay" is very good as long as there is no other distraction. ;)

We have a vet visit scheduled for Friday for his last puppy shot. 

Monday, November 10, 2014

He Is Growing So Fast

It's only week three.  It is amazing how fast he is growing both mentally and physically.  While still somewhat timid in public situations, he has to problem being a little shit at home.  He and Rusty really go at it and you think they are killing each other.  We try to keep them separated but they just keep going back for more.  If it gets too intense, buster gets a "time out" in the carrier.

We wanted to go for a ride in Tehachapi over the weekend.  We had three choices for what to do with Buster:  a) leave him in the yard with Rusty, b) leave him in the kennel for the 6+ hours we would be gone, or c) take him with us and leave him in the kennel for only the couple of hours we would be actually riding.  We opted for "c" and he did well.  He was barking when we got back to the trailer, but he really had to go.  We took him for about 100 yard ride with the horses.  He was worried at first, then just followed along with us.

The folks at the winery invited us in the tasting room and everyone fawned over him.  He was worried, but then they brought out some treats and all was well.We spent about an hour there and he slept most of the time by my feet.

He is healing - kinda - and sitting.  He doesn't listen worth a darn.  He plays in his own world.  He is eating enough for three dogs.  But, he did his first "down" for me today, so we are making progress.

Friday, November 7, 2014

The Training Dilemma

What to Train and When to Train It

Buster is getting old enough to understand some things - not all things, of course - but SOME.  Those are the situations and opportunities for training we are taking advantage of right now.

Chasing cats:  

Buster thinks this is great fun.  Cats, not so much.  It started with the cats waiting at the front door wanting to get out as Buster would come in.  Right inside the door it was showdown time eye-to-eye.  The cats would turn to hightail it and Buster, being happy he was now inside the house would playfully follow along.  Meanwhile Ranae or I would be standing at the door having little power to do anything.  The solution:  Have a small lead right at the front door.  Slip it over Buster's head before letting him in.  The cats will still run, but Buster cannot follow.

Jumping up:

We almost have this one licked.  (Oh, how I will probably hate myself for saying that.)  We have started adding the word "Off" as we ask him to get his front paws off the sofa, coffee table, or chair.  He still does this when he wants to search out morsels of food that may have been left behind, but the word is replacing us having to physically remove his front feet from whatever item.

Chewing on unwanted items:

Again, we've added a word, "Leave It" to having our fingers physically remove something from his vise-grip jaws.  This one hasn't quite taken hold yet, but we have just started.  We usually replace the unwanted item with one of his toys.  

The key is trying to be consistent, use words, and categorize behavior while still letting him enjoy the wonders of puppy-hood and discovery.  It is also trying to discern what the behavior he is exhibiting today will look like when he is an adult.  Chasing cats is fun now, but could be lethal later on.

We'll keep adding things as we go along and feel he can handle it.  We'll replace some unwanted behaviors with some positive training such as scent tracking, retrieving, or obedience.  

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

We're Very Bullish on Buster

Oh, if only the stock market went up like Buster's weight.  16 lbs!!!  I'm buying Roundup - we need some weed control.

The worming medication gave Buster some runny stools.  Finally, yesterday morning he passed some nasty looking roundworms.  Roundworms are only supposed to get 6-7 inches long.  Some of these were at least three.  (I really didn't look too closely)  I think his tummy was upset because he was off his meals a little bit too.  It's funny, before the worm medication I would moisten his food.  After worm medication he didn't touch moistened food.

His training is coming along.  He has a very nice "Sit", except it is in front.  He has just the slightest hint of a "Stay".  His recall is good if you're kneeling.  We just started working on the "Down".

Our socialization continues.  Now that he has had his second shot we are venturing more places.  People can't resist Buster's green eyes.  He doesn't always appreciate the attention, but I think he coming along nicely.

I had a meeting today and had to leave him in the kennel in the truck.  It was a cool day.  He stayed in the cab with the windows opened.  My meeting lasted about 90 minutes.  He tolerated very well and took the time to catch up on some napping.  When he is in sleep mode he is the devil to wake up.  After lunch we walked Ranae back to work - the long way - well over a mile by her tracking app.

Sunday, November 2, 2014

Our Visit to the Vet

Buster and Rusty
Friday was vaccination day.  Buster's appointment was late in the afternoon.  We had a real nice day with an early morning walk and I got some work done in the office while he slept.

It was eerie for me entering the hospital and later the very same exam room I spent the final moments with Max.  That's the deal you sign on for with dogs.  Each one is a chapter and they will over lap.

Buster was reserved in the waiting room.  I kept him in my lap.  Who knows what germs might be roaming around.  Once in the exam room he seemed to enjoy the stainless steel table.  I played with the controls moving it up and down and giving him a ride.

Our vet is Dr. Rose.  She is sweet and, more importantly, had treats.  At first Buster was a little suspect, then had a "Oh-what-the-hell" moment and started scarfing them down as fast a possible.  He held puppy still while she checked his heart.  His nose was scrounging for a treat when she inserted the thermometer and he was far too distracted to even notice the injection.

We had brought a stool sample to be tested for parasites.  To my surprise they sent this test out to a lab in Los Angeles.  When I worked there back in the seventies, we did them in-house.  It was one of the first diagnostic tests I learned.  It is a quick and simple test.  A tube, sodium hydroxide if I remember correctly, a microscope and a slide.  They were done before the vet entered the exam room.  Nope, I would have to wait for the results to come in tomorrow.

At check out, I talk with the receptionist about my time there and asked if my old and first ever boss was still around.  To my surprise, Dr. F is 92 years old!

With Family Friend, Cyd
I was surprised at the high cost of the first visit - nearly eighty dollars.  The fecal test was $38!  Yeah, I know I'm showing my age, but our old way 40 years ago was $6.

Saturday, I got the call to come by and get some medication because, yes, Buster had roundworms.  Medication was dispensed in powder form (another $20) with instructions once a day for three consecutive days.

It was a little disturbing that Buster started having a loose stool late Saturday afternoon.  By evening it was quite runny.  Was this a reaction to the shot?  The worming medication?  No evidence of worms were showing up on his back end and from experience I knew that was sometimes the case.

Late in the evening I gave him a touch of Imodium and he slept until 4am.  His stool was still runny but his appetite was good and he was playful.  We slept on the living room floor until sunrise.  The guy is a cuddler.

He has good energy today, though still loose.  He's a puppy.  I'm sure this is all just part of the process.